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New York Times, Thursday, September 27, 2018

Author:
Daniel Kantor
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
118/7/20079/27/20185
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0036110
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.60030
Daniel Kantor

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {JQVZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 11 for Mr. Kantor. Jeff Chen's Puzzle of the Week pick. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Notepad: The print version of this puzzle contains visual elements that this software cannot reproduce. We recommend using the PDF, or alternatively one of the other available electronic versions.

For solving in this software, here are descriptions of what appears in the print version:
At 17-Across, each square in the answer has a thick underscore at the bottom.
At 33-Across, the squares in the answer have all been darkened to various degrees.
At 42-Across, the entire answer is surrounded by a thick bar on all four sides.
At 62-Across, there are thick bars running across the entire top and bottom of the answer.
Daniel Kantor notes:
The Revenge of the Grid I believe the art of the crossword puzzle will wither and die if we don't keep breaking it open to make it ... read more

The Revenge of the Grid

I believe the art of the crossword puzzle will wither and die if we don't keep breaking it open to make it new again. I get bored if all I do is create variations on proven concepts. So, whether you liked this puzzle or not, I did it to explore something new, to break a few rules, and to take advantage of a platform (the NYT) that celebrates the idea of taking risks.

In this puzzle, I was intrigued by the idea of exploring whether the grid itself could provide its own theme clues. I like to think that if puzzle grids had personalities and could talk, some grids (extroverted types) would say they wanted to be more center stage, to participate in the same things that the clues always do.

"Hey, why do you words always get to give the clues? Why can't we grids ever do that!? It's always empty square, black square, empty square, black square…"

I like to think that my grid is smiling at the idea that its theme fill points back to the grid. The theme fill is, in a way, subordinated to the grid. When the grid lives ABOVE the fill, it's a good day in grid-dom.

When pondering this puzzle, I wondered how far I could go with the design. Would I have to do it using already-accepted methods? Would Will Shortz be interested? How much would I be allowed to challenge standard grid design? My first draft even included CLUELESS in the fill, clued as "How one might feel trying to solve 17-, 33-, 42-, and 62-Across". In the end, Will advised that the CLUELESS entry was not necessary. The puzzle's grid would speak for itself. He got the point I was trying to make even more than I did.

Jeff Chen notes:
I love it when constructors do kooky things with print grids. It's neat when a puzzle works much better on paper than in (most) ... read more

I love it when constructors do kooky things with print grids. It's neat when a puzzle works much better on paper than in (most) electronic formats – score one for the dead tree edition!

Daniel gives us four examples of self-referential themers, i.e. SHADES OF GRAY goes into boxes that are actually SHADES OF GRAY. INSIDE THE BOX is literally INSIDE THE BOX. Meta!

The difference between INSIDE THE BOX and BETWEEN THE LINES is small – the two sides are bolded on the former, but not the latter – so these didn't feel quite different enough for my taste. Still, four solid themers overall.

(We've taken some liberties in the visual below, adding color to help accentuate the differences between the last two themers.)

Nice grid execution, too. I was already delighted by the strangeness in the grid lines, but my solving experience was enhanced even further when encountering goodies like SEA LEGS, MINIONS, FAKE ID, HEATER as baseball lingo. Well worth the price of a bit of ESS STL SADR.

Great idea, memorable puzzle. I'd love for more constructors come up with ideas on kookifying print grids. There's something so satisfying to this old-schooler when a print version outshines its electronic kin.

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© 2018, The New York TimesNo. 0927 ( 25,160 )
Across
1
___ bar : TIKI
5
Substance : MEAT
9
Zombie's domain : SCIFI
14
Kind of rinse : ORAL
15
Nose (along) : INCH
16
Coverage of the Senate? : TOGAS
17
SEE NOTEPAD : FILLINTHEBLANKS
20
Draw upon : USE
21
Word that sounds like a state when accented on the second syllable rather than the first : MISERY
22
Place : LIEU
23
Noted Warhol subject : MAO
24
Spotted : SEEN
26
Cause for a shootout : TIE
27
Gives, as roles : ASSIGNS
31
Packing : ARMED
33
SEE NOTEPAD : SHADESOFGRAY
36
Brand name derived from the phrase "Service Games" : SEGA
37
Sign of summer : LEO
38
Iraq's ___ City : SADR
42
SEE NOTEPAD : INSIDETHEBOX
47
Crowd, they say : THREE
49
Good standing in the Navy? : SEALEGS
50
Break up a plot? : HOE
51
In times past : ONCE
54
Munchkin : ELF
55
"'Tis sad" : ALAS
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Hyundai model : SONATA
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Rejuvenation station : SPA
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SEE NOTEPAD : BETWEENTHELINES
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Bean sprouts? : IDEAS
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Lambchop : DEAR
67
Bellyache : CARP
68
Stuff from which some suits are made? : TORTS
69
Some overhead light covers : ORBS
70
Dr. Foreman player on "House" : EPPS
Down
1
Vegetarian choice : TOFU
2
Early-blooming ornamental : IRIS
3
Moolah : KALE
4
"___ see you" : ILL
5
Highest-grossing animated film of 2015 : MINIONS
6
Tolkien tree creatures : ENTS
7
Pays for a workout, say : ACHES
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"Hah! Done!" : THERE
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Card letters : STL
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Kind of black : COAL
11
Light : IGNITE
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Help in getting past a bouncer : FAKEID
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Immigration or health care : ISSUE
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Brand concern : IMAGE
19
One way to play something : BYEAR
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During flight : MIDAIR
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Org. whose first-ever presidential endorsement was Ronald Reagan : NRA
27
Hoofed animal : ASS
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___-bear : SHE
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Dip : SAG
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Songs for one : SOLI
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Walt Whitman's "Song of ___" : MYSELF
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Added fuel to : FED
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Leaves : GOES
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Fiver : ABE
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Follow relentlessly : DOG
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Scripts, informally : RXS
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Lead-in to Latin : NEO
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Awareness : SENSE
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Rocks on the edge : TEETERS
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Permissible to be eaten, in a way : HALAL
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Spanish city where El Greco lived : TOLEDO
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Fastball, in baseball : HEATER
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Something you might kick after you pick it up : HABIT
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Complex purchase, in brief : CONDO
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Word next to an arrow : ENTER
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Thwack : SWAT
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Starbuck's order giver : AHAB
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[Just like ... that!] : SNAP
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One in custody, informally : PERP
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African menaces : ASPS
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Part of a dollar sign : ESS
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Chill : ICE

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle.

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